I recently created a Facebook fan page for the RJI Collaboratory — a community of journalists, developers, and others who are building the future of local and niche news, supported by the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
Yes, the Collaboratory has a Ning community site. However, it’s always easier to engage people when you go where they are, rather than demanding they come to your site just to talk and share. Hence the fan page — so we can bring the activity of the Collaboratory to our members who spend more time on Facebook than on the Collaboratory site.
I still hate Facebook, but since it’s so damn popular I have no choice but to use it, especially to connect with various communities. One of the many things that annoy me about Facebook is how difficult they make it to import content from several different feeds onto a fan page’s comment wall.
I’m by no means a Facebook expert, but I just hacked a solution to that particular problem, and thought I’d share it…
WHAT I WANTED TO INTEGRATE:
Besides Facebook, the RJI Collaboratory has several online presences:
I wanted items from all of these to be published to the wall of our Facebook fan page, so that our “fans” and others would see them in their Facebook news feed.
You can import a feed so that its items appear as “notes” on your fan page, which in turn get published to your fan page’s comment wall (Jean O’Brien explains how). However, Facebook only lets you import ONE feed — not several. And each of the Collaboratory’s online presences has its own feed.
Then I imported that aggregated feed into our fan page, using O’Brien’s process.
It seems to be working. Items from Ning, Delicious, and Twitter are all getting posted to our comment wall. Check it out.
…One side benefit of this is that Facebook makes it much easier than Ning to have conversations about specific content items. For instance, on the home page of the Collaboratory on Ning, we have a box that displays the latest links from our Delicious network. However, Ning offers no way for members to post comments about that content.
In Ning communities, you can only have public discussions through comments to blog posts (and Ning doesn’t let you import feeds as blog posts), or in forum threads (which just gets to be a mess and isn’t very findable).
Our hope is that our Facebook fan page will be a useful (and perhaps easier-to-use) complement to our Ning community, as well as a venue for broader distribution and discussion of the Collaboratory.